Lessons In Finishing. #145


Att: N/A

SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Bolt 71]

CRYSTAL PALACE XI – 5 [Williams Surrey47]

Oooooh bugger. Thats it. The end of this praticising lark. We’ve got to do it for real next week!

So what better way to prepare for the start of a brand new season than to invite a 1st Division team’s reserves down to your place and er….get a bloody good hiding?

Well, the Palace reserves are no pushovers. Defending Surrey Senior Cup holders, beating Woking 3-0 in last years final, they’ve spent most of this pre-season roaming the south of England and handing out maulings to pretty much everyone who got in their way. Including a 10-1 annihilation of Whyteleafe the previous week. And they also include as their captain a US international. Just back from helping the Yanks to a Q/Final spot at the World Cup.

So, 5-1 was a bit of a result then?

Thankfully, the U’s fielded probably their strongest pre-season line up so far with Mark Watson re-appearing up front. Rumours circulating that Aldershot had let him go for nowt, which is a touch as thats currently about our price range! Also still in the side is Danny Bolt. Looks like JR has had a change of heart about our Mr Bolt as he’s also rumoured to be signing, again also on a freebie.

Also back is Scott Corbett and defender Danny Hodges (remember him?) starts at the back alongside Ryan Palmer. Dave Timothy is also in action as Matt Gray drops to the bench.

After our usual pre-match bevvy in the Hood, we wander through the turnstiles right on kick off. now thats good timing! Flicking through the programme, I find the pre-season round up has been supplied by yours truly, with the snippets lifted off our news page. The shame of it! Respectability! Whatever next?? A column in the Independent??? Waaaaaah.

The match itself egts off to a good start and the pace, like the Scummer game, is high. Ideal for getting our lot on their bloody toes. Both sides play some neat sweeping footy, with Palace obviously having been together a lot longer making the more effective moves forwards. Both sides create openings, but no real chances, when after just 9 minutes, a simple through ball carves open the U’s defence. No10, Gareth Williams recieves the pass, skips round Dunn and slips the ball into the far corner from a narrow angle.

Nuts. Good start that!

To our credit, the U’s hit back and from a Danny Bolt corner, Paul Honey flights a delightful ball to the back post where a completely unmarked Nick Bailey hooks an effort in. Sadly, the linesman has decided that he’s offiside and it’s ruled out. Hmmmm? We’re not so sure you useless blind twat. I bet we get you for a Surrey Cup match later this year……..

But soon after, Palace exted their lead and again it’s Williams doing the damage. The Eagles tricky, pacy No7 turns poor old Hollands inside out for the ‘nth time already and whips a great cross into the box. Willilams rising at the back post to power a downward header past poor ol’ Tommy.

The U’s try and hit back but flounder a bit on the Palace offside trap and passes are misplaced or misread as everyone is still trying to get themselves acquainted. Honey and Corebett are doing a good solid job in Midfield, but when they do lose out, the ball is swiftly moved wide for the Palace wingers to attack our backline, causing serious problems.

With the half hour mark approaching, Mr Williams bags himself the match ball, cutting in from the U’s left, holding off the defender and passing the ball beyond Dunn into the far corner. Christ, doesn’t this fucker EVER miss?? 3 chances, 3 goals. A clinical display of finishing if ever I’ve seen one.

Two questions have to be asked. 1. Where the hell can we get one from?? and 2. Are they cheap???

Moments after the pesky Williams has effectively ended the contest, it starts to piss down and we all leg it for the shelter of the Collingwood Terrace. Here we watch the final 15 minutes or so of the half take place in a torrential downpour. Where we notice just how bad a game Hollands is having and that Danny Hodges isn’t as sharp as we’d like him to be! The weather acts as a bit of a leveller and our lads mount a good bit of pressure before the break with Danny Bolt naturally at the centre of things.

One has to ask, just what the hell did K’s do with him to think he was crap?? Jeez!

Twice some neat play sends Hanlan and Watson on runs and Bolt himself forces a save from a narrow angle having wriggled his way to the byline, sadly his best option being to try and lay it into the path of Bailey. Ho hum.

Thankfully, the rain subsides for half time and we motor round to the bar for some scores.

We go to emerge from the tunnel for the 2nd half only to be greeted with another downpour, but of somewhat biblical proportions this time. Sod that.

We stand and watch the first couple of minutes of the half from the back end of the tunnel. Only able to see the centre circle at best. Which suits us fine, as we’re not outside getting bloody soaked.

The rain eases off and we make a run for it. Wussing out, we dive into the stand and for the first time in god knows when, we watch a match at GGL seated. In proper seats.

Just as we park our arses, Hollands is once more left for dead by that lively little No7 and his ball into the box finds Ben Surrey in loads of room. Despite the desperate attempt at a block, he picks his spot past Dunn. Ho hum. Well, at least it wasn’t that Williams git!

The second half follows the pattern of the first. We play some decent stuff, but fail to make it count in the box. Twice Watson just lacks the sharpness to nick a chance when the ball bobbles his way in the box. Hanlan is put in by a nice pass from Bolt (who else?) but despite having an age to set himself up and stroke the ball past the ‘keeper, he elects to belt it straight at him instead. Arse!

We make a couple of changes with the hapless Hollands replaced by Darren Beale and Matt Hanlan replaced by Matt Fowler. Christ knows where he’s been all pre-season!

Fowler makes his customary contribution within seconds of coming on, getting into a tussle with Mr USA international and ending up in a heap. Despite the fact all this takes place no more than 5 yards from a linesman, the official of course bottles it and after a talking to for both players, Mr World Cup Quarter Finals is shown a yellow card for his efforts.

The inlcusion of Beale helps out on the right and we finally start to deny Mr 7 a bit of space. Although he has plenty when Williams has an good run and shot palmed out by Dunn and his acrobatic effort clips the bar. Thankfully he’s offside.

Another good bit of play from Bolt sets up Watson, but like like Hanlan before him, he goes for power rather than finish and the ‘keeper beats out the effort.

Palace meanwhile are trying to take advantage of the wet conditions and are lamping efforts in on Dunn’s goal from all angles. Thankfully Tommy doesn’t elect to mess about with any of them and flicks most away with an outstretched hand. Danny Hodges comes close to getting the U’s off the mark from a Bolt corner, but he’s unable to guide his header the right side of the post.

We finally get the goal our second half efforts deserve with 71 minutes played. Bolt (yes, him again!) goes on a mazy little run which is halted at the last moment with a naughty little trip. Bolty makes ‘em pay though, hitting one of his trademark low, left footers past the edge of the wall and into the far corner.

We’ll have a few more of those this season if you don’t mind Dan old son!

Palace get annoyed and within a couple of minutes, that poxy skippy, pacy, irritating No7 is planting another good cross onto the noggin of who else, but Gareth Williams, at the back post for his fourth goal.

We withdraw Dave Timothy and give Matty Gray a run out and he does go close late on. With one beautiful ball from Bolt (surprise surprise!) picking him out at the back post. Sadly his finish doesn’t match his 1st touch and he screws the shot wide of the far post with the goal at his mercy. In the final couple of minutes, he again goes close with a right footed volley flashing just wide of the upright.

So, a convincing defeat, but weirdly this was one of the more promising performances of the pre-season program. With the additions of Bolt and Watosn, we look more like a reasonable side and they have the experience to bring people like Bailey, Gray etc onto a more consistent plane.

Ho hum, roll on Hampton.

MAN OF THE MATCH : DUH! Danny Bolt. Worked hard and was at the centre of everything.

TEAM : Dunn, Timothy, Palmer, Hollands, Hodges, Bolt, Corbett, Honey, Bailey, Watson, Hanlan.  SUBS : Fowler, Gray, Shannon, Beale

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